friends · Hispanics/Latinos · Israel · jews of color · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · race/racism

I have the right to be treated…


like a human being. Not an alien from outer-space.

And yet…
According to some people, getting overly excited about being Dominican just isn’t Jewish. Repeatedly I’ve been told to tone down my Dominican pride because now I’m a Jew, just a Jew.

And well, being proudly Jewish, now that gets on the nerves of some of my Latino non-Jewish brethren especially the ones who are quite certain that I’m going to hell now that I’ve left Jesus and repeatedly like to tell me so.

Now, being angry about the racism I’ve encountered in Jewish circles has gotten me called an “angry black girl” and worst. I’ve even been advised I need to seek therapy for my issues with white people. Others have said that I’m embarrassing the Jewish people by talking about racism in the community out loud.

Too many times the first question out of someone’s mouth when they’ve met me has been “Are you a convert?” People can’t seem to help themselves. Literally, it seems to blurt out of their mouths with ever widening eyes.

Yes, I’ve had to stomach little kids saying racist and other inappropriate things to me and when I’ve turned to their parents, I have been told that I was exaggerating things. I have had to sit there and let little kids harass me.

I worry that if I criticize the state of Israel, people will think I’m doing it because I don’t have the proper respect for Judaism. I worry about this enough to wonder if someday, I’ll be looking forward to having my conversion revoked over one too many editorials.

I worry that telling my non-Jewish friends about the racist Jews I’ve encountered only fuels what they already believe about white Jews. And I really don’t know how to help this situation.

I worry even more about the dating prospects of converts, both white and otherwise, and I pray that they will all find, like I did, the right person who truly accepts them for who they are and is awed by the amazing journey they’ve taken to Judaism.

Are these totally random thoughts? Well, read “We Hold These Truths to Be Pretty Obvious” and you’ll have some thoughts of your own. Blogger MaNishtana does it again by creating an awesome post detailing his very own “Jew of Color Bill of Rights.”

8 thoughts on “I have the right to be treated…

  1. I'll think you'll enjoy Rabbi Mayer Schiller's article, “The Forgotten Humanism of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch”. This article can be found on Professor Yitzchok Levine's site about Rabbi Hirsch, in the section on Judaism and Gentiles.

    Now, strictly speaking, Rabbi Schiller's article is about whether an American Jew can be patriotic for America, but he makes his case by quoting what Rabbi Hirsch says about Germany, so I see no reason why we cannot just as well apply all this to the Dominican Republic.

    Compare what Rabbi Marc Angel says about a Jew celebrating Thanksgiving (he makes similar remarks in his novel The Search Committee), and what he says about Jews being patriotic for America in general. (Again, these are regarding America, but I see no reason we cannot apply them to any other culture.)

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  2. I cannot help you with your relationships with your Hispanic friends – are you still Dominican? should you tell them about racist Jews? I don't know.

    But as for the racist Jews: remind them why we have a mitzvah to love the ger! According to Hazal, a ger, upon being embarrassed or not accepted with enough love, is liable to become bitter, and return to his past religion and people, where he was accepted and comfortable. This, precisely this, is why G-d commands us to love the stranger (including the non-Jewish stranger). The stranger has no Jewish/local family to protect him, no social connections, no familiarity with the politics and inner-workings of the society. Treat him badly, and he'll either leave or become lonely and insecure, and perhaps – G-d forbid – we'll have a reenactment of a famous scene from Full Metal Jacket.

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  3. Oh, man. You absolutely have a right to be treated with, let's not even say respect, ha!, but with minimum decency. But you ALSO have a right not to socialize much at ALL with these LOSERS if this keeps happening over and over and over. You must know a FEW frum friends/couples/households who don't do this? Then just restrict your shabbat guest/host list to them. This is what I have done for different, if related, reasons.

    I'm not saying isolate yourself totally. But a little restriction may help. Even the exceptions have their moments, I'm sure. But you have a right to expect that the Aliza's-heritage-commentary be along the lines of “oh, your multicultural CONTRIBUTIONS are so SPECIAL,” and not worse.

    Mikewind Dale–did you just ask is Aliza still Dominican? MWD, MWD, if it's OK for R. Hirsch to be GERMAN, or Rashi to be FRENCH, then yes, I “guess” Aliza is “still” Dominican.

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  4. Sarah,

    You completely misunderstood my intent.

    I said, “I cannot help you with your relationships with your Hispanic friends – are you still Dominican? should you tell them about racist Jews? I don't know.”

    In other words: whether Aliza is still Dominican or not is between her and the Dominicans, and I have no right to say anything one way or the other. If I can in fact take a stance, I can naught but take her word for it, and say that she's whatever she tells me she is.

    My point was precisely the opposite of what you took it to be.

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